The Call That Brought Out the Best in DeWitt

Late in June Blake DeWitt got a call on his cellphone. It was from a man that, outside of his immediate family, he respects more than just about anyone else.

He felt sure he know what the call would be. DeWitt had been receiving some shocks for some time. It began at the end of spring training when he was unexpectedly dropped back from Jacksonville, a team he felt had felt confident in making, to Class A ball again. And ever since he'd been floundering- couldn't seem to get his game in focus.

So, this call was, he just knew, the pat-on-the-back kind. You know, "You're a good player Blake. Times are tough now but you'll play through it. We all have faith in you. Keep plugging" -that sort of thing. But it wasn't at all.

"You know Blake," the man said. "I guess I had you wrong. You're just a kid from a small town in Missouri who can't seem to take the pressure. After all, you've got a million bucks in the bank so you're set. You can go home and be a big hero even if you don't make the big leagues. You just don't seem to have what it takes."

DeWitt protested that he wasn't kind of person at all. That playing up on top was something he wanted more than anything.

"You don't seem to be doing it," was the reply.

"That" the man said later" was one of the tougher things I ever had to do. This is the nicest, most polite kid you'll ever meet. But his father called me and asked me if I'd do it. He thought the shock might be what Blake needed."

Maybe it was this exercise in tough love, maybe it would have happened anyway but it was then that DeWitt got his swing back in the groove. The swing that they've always regarded as one of the purest in the system ever since DeWitt was drafted in the first round back in 2004.

The hits began falling in, often over the wall. The average climbed from the very low .200's to .298. He ripped eight homers. And they decided he had proved himself at Inland Empire just as they hoped he would and sent him on his way back to Jacksonville.

He'd been there last year, you know but that's when the trouble started for after an all-star season at Vero Beach, he hit only .183 with the Suns. This time, though, he hasn't stopped. Right now he's hitting .367. He's played in 16 games and already has sent three out of the yard and driven in 11 runs.

Part of the reason may be that he's stationed at third once again, instead of second where they tried him for awhile but where he never felt comfortable.

But a great part of it was that verbal boot in the rear when he had expected a friendly hug of a conversation. The good ones respond to challenges. He certainly has.

And Blake, he cares about you. Always has. And like your dad hoped- it worked.

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